Keep your eyes on the radar
HEALTH checks for blood pressure and cholesterol are well known, but not many people think about their eye health. Especially if their eyesight is fine.
Alan Cooney's family has a history of macular degeneration. He, his mother and his sister are all affected.
"I encourage everyone to be proactive, rather than reactive,” Mr Cooney said.
"I come along every year and get my eyes checked, I have the early stages of it.
"You don't notice it, it just creeps up on you.”
The now 68-year old, who likes to travel, found out eight years ago.
While he was working, he said, he would get his eyes checked every few years when he upgrades his prescription glasses.
When he retired he included an eye health check with his annual full medical.
Losing one's sight would mean losing independence, Mr Cooney said.
"I would be like anyone else who lost their sight, I would be very disturbed, I think it is on of the greatest gifts that we have.”
Mackay EyeQ Optometrists' Natalie Rokic said eye health had been put on the radar through the 'Do you see what I see?' campaign in collaboration with Bayer Australia and the Macular Disease Foundation.
"We have cutting edge technique to see the eye in a way we have never been able to before,” Ms Rokic said.
She said a recent survey had found that 50 per cent of people over the age of 50 living with an eye problem didn't actually know they had one. If detected early 80 per cent of vision loss could be treated or prevented.
The three most common degenerative eye diseases were macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts and glaucoma, Ms Rokic said.
Individuals with diabetes were at increased risk.
"Diabetes related vision loss is the leading cause of blindness in the aged populations,” she said.
Former Mackay Mayor Deirdre Comerford was at the campaign launch. She gets her eyes checked regularly, together with her husband, who is a diabetic. She encourages everyone over the age of 50 to get their eye health checked and not wear 'a badge of honour' when eyesight is fine.